The Cole Foundation Endowment

The Cole Foundation, now a permanent endowment fund of Foundation For The Carolinas, was originally established in 1965 as a private foundation with gifts from Elizabeth S. Cole and her brother, Robert L. Cole, in memory of their parents, William B. Cole and Elizabeth Little Cole, and their sister, Catherine Cole.

During the lifetimes of the donors, gifts from The Cole Foundation benefited numerous charitable organizations. It was characteristic that gifts were made quietly and often anonymously.

When Elizabeth and Robert died in the late 1980s, the majority of their estates came to The Cole Foundation by bequest. In 1989 the Trustees of The Cole Foundation conveyed its assets to Foundation For The Carolinas to insure the long-term stewardship of the trust. The Trustees of The Cole Foundation, acting as a committee, continue to serve as advisors in its administration.

Grant Cycle Timeline and Target Areas

The 2014 grant cycle timeline is as follows. Please note, completed application must be submitted by noon on the date due:

  • 1st quarter - Friday, February 21st. Notification late March.
  • 2nd quarter - Friday, May 1st. Notification early June.
  • 3rd quarter - Friday, August 1st. Notification late September.
  • 4th quarter - Friday, November 1st. Notification late December.

Target Areas
Grants are limited to eligible organizations including 501(c)(3) nonprofit, governmental and educational institutions for projects that will serve Richmond County, NC. Preference will be given to promising new projects that address community needs identified below.

The applicant may be an existing organization, a coalition of organizations, or a new organization. If the organization has been in existence past the seed stage, the proposal must be outside the realm of possible inclusion in the regular ongoing operating budget.

  • Areas of interest include: economic development, education (K-12 and Post-Secondary), recreation and arts/culture.
  • Program grants – Priority will be given to local proposals that evidence volunteer leadership and/or grassroots participation and financial support. Projects will be evaluated on the basis of (1) feasibility in terms of leadership and plan, (2) significance in terms of the importance of the issue being addressed, and (3) the project’s potential for success.
  • Capital Grants for Land, Buildings, and Equipment – Priority will be given to proposals that demonstrate an organizational commitment in terms of leadership, financial support, and other resources. Priority will be given to “challenge grants” whereby other donors make matching gifts.

Future Funding - A project or program must have potential continuity through other funding sources in future years.

Areas Not Generally Funded

  • Endowment Funds
  • Ongoing operating budgets beyond the seed level
  • Conferences
  • Publication of books
  • Grants to individuals (e.g. scholarships, hardship)

Online Application Access

The grant cycle is conducted through an online application process, which requires an initial step of registering on the Foundation For The Carolinas website. If you have applied online in the past for a grant, please use the ID/Password previously created.

If you are not already registered to apply for competitive grants online, click here to begin the registration process. Note: it can take one business day for the registration to be processed, so please check back the day after you register to make sure you can log in via Access My Account on the right column of the web page. It is highly recommended registration be completed one week prior to the application deadline to ensure sufficient time to gain access to and complete the application.

Launch the Application
Click here to launch the online application. You will be directed to Foundation For The Carolinas Competitive Grant Application and will be asked to log in. Please select The Cole Foundation as the grant program to which you are applying. To preview the application questions, click here.

Please note: Once you start and save an application, you will re-enter the application from your application status page after logging in. Click here to go to the application status page.

Duration and Tracking of Grant
All grant recipients are expected to provide a report evaluating the project and accounting for grant expenses. If a complete evaluation report is not received by the requested date, an organization may be ineligible for a grant from this grant program in the future.

Additional Notes
The Cole Foundation has limited discretionary funds; therefore, many exemplary proposals cannot be funded. Because of the volume of requests, we do not provide written feedback on proposals that are not funded. To conduct a fair and ethical grants program, a conflict of interest policy is followed and requires that volunteers and/or staff not participate in the grant process for an organization with which they are affiliated. Please do not lobby board or grant committee members on behalf of your organization. If an individual or organization wishes to express support for your project’s application, please have them contact Karen Coppadge, Grants Specialist, at or 704.973.4559.

The Cole Foundation Trustees

Russell E. Bennett, Jr.
J. Neal Cadieu, Jr.
Al Covington
Charles B. Deane, Jr.
Lazell Marks
Sandra B. Ridley

To obtain more information about The Cole Foundation, contact:

Brian Collier
Executive Vice President
Community Programs & Civic Leadership